A Tektronix Gain
[ Back ]   [ More News ]   [ Home ]
A Tektronix Gain


Some seventeen months ago, just as the first of his two EDA WEEKLY articles on Agilent EEsof EDA was about to be posted on EDACafe.com, the writer learned that the VP & General Manager of the featured Agilent Technologies division was leaving EEsof EDA after 10 years of successful service in that position (24 years at HP & Agilent).

Jim McGillivary

Indeed, Jim McGillivary departed at the end of April 2010 after working closely with his EEsof successor Dr. Mark Pierpoint to ensure a smooth transition.

By then, the two EDA WEEKLY articles about Agilent EEsof had already appeared on February 01, 2010 and MARCH 29, 2010. These two articles may still be accessed at the following URL:


Earlier this year (2011), the EDA WEEKLY checked in with Agilent EEsof EDA as part of the EDA WEEKLY ONE YEAR LATER program, and found as expected that EEsof is continuing the do very well with new leadership and the improving economic situation.  Note: The reader may choose immediately to view this ONE YEAR LATER section of that particular issue of the EDA WEEKLY by (1) first reading the hints in Footnote [1] below to learn how to navigate once there toward the bottom of the article where the ONE YEAR LATER section is located, then (2) bookmarking this current article using the toolbar in your browser so you can easily return to the current “A Tektronix Gain” article, and finally, (3) click on the following URL:


Checking in ONE YEAR LATER with Jim McGillivary

Next, the writer touched base in April 2011 with Jim McGillivary as well, to see how he was faring ONE YEAR LATER, i.e. a year after he left Agilent.

By way of background, the writer first met Jim McGillivary in early 2005 along with key members of Jim’s team, when Henke Associates was engaged by Agilent EEsof to evaluate the then-existing competitors of EEsof, to assist Agilent EEsof in evaluating signal integrity companies as potential candidates for acquisition. This project turned out very well and is the basis for Case History #18. To read Case Cistory #18 immediately, first (1) bookmark this current article using the toolbar in your browser so you can easily return to the current “A Tektronix Gain” article, then (2) click on the following URL:


Shortly after that consulting project was completed, Agilent EEsof under Jim McGillivary’s continuing guidance proceeded with and consummated the acquisitions of both Eagleware-Elanix and Expedion, each of which has since added key software offerings and personnel to expand EEsof’s product lines.

The Recent Meeting with Jim McGillivary

To best determine what Jim McGillivary has been involved in over the last year, the writer invited Jim to a face-to-face get-together. The subsequent meeting with Jim took place in Santa Rosa, CA at the end of April 2011.

Not only is Jim and his family doing very well these days, but also the writer gained a wealth of additional knowledge about Jim’s background, capabilities, interests and personality that were not apparent from previous, more limited encounters. These insights have been incorporated into the current article.

At the time of our April 2011 update session, Jim was in the midst of selling his home in Santa Rosa and preparing his family’s move to already-selected new digs in Oregon, the better to pursue a new opportunity at Tektronix in Beaverton, Oregon. Jim began this new career assignment on February 01, 2011, and he has been commuting by air weekly between PDX and STS ever since.

Why Tektronix?

Readers will recall that Tektronix had been acquired in November 2007 by Danaher Corporation, a worldwide conglomerate based in Washington D.C. Today Danaher’s total revenue for the trailing 12 months was $13+ Billion and it has a Market Cap of about $36+ Billion.

When Danaher acquired Tektronix, Danaher had paid slightly more than $2.8 Billion in cash for Tektronix, which represented something just north of $38 per share to Tek stockholders (many of whom were Tek employees). Danaher had coveted both the Tektronix Test & Measurement business as well as Tek’s Communications Division, the latter of which was spun off to a separate entity called Danaher Tektronix Communications.

Never having heard the Danaher name before Danaher acquired Tek, the writer among others nevertheless figured at the time that Danaher management must be “smart cookies” indeed, since they kept visible the venerable Tektronix name and reputation after the acquisition.

After all, anyone in electrical or electronics engineering, or early EDA or MCAD for that matter, knew the Tektronix name. Who among us was not aware of early Tektronix oscilloscopes (first developed in 1946 when “Tek” was founded [2]):

An early 5XX Tektronix Oscilloscope

Years later, those of us in MCAD and EDA software were equally delighted by Tek’s first storage tube computer terminals (in the early seventies). After starting our tiny business by developing and using primitive MCAD software in the late 60’s and early 70’s via Model 33 Teletypes or other alphanumeric-only terminals linked to offsite service bureaus, the writer and his colleagues at SDRC Cincinnati were among the first recipients of the initial Tektronix 400x and later the 405x graphics terminals:

A Tek 4014 [3]

A Tek 4051 [3]

Tektronix continued to play an important role in SDRC’s development later in the 70’s (and thus in the writer’s development), when SDRC licensed its CAE software package to Tek for re-selling with Tek’s 408x graphical Interdata minicomputer workstations.

A Tek 4081 Workstation [4]

This ongoing Tek/SDRC relationship prompted frequent trips by the writer in the late 70’s, back and forth between Cincinnati and Portland (foretelling the many more frequent trips between San Jose and Portland after the writer became a general manager at Mentor Graphics from 1990 to 1994. In fact, the writer moved to and lived in Portland for two years 1994-96 before returning to the SF Bay Area).

As a matter of fact, Tek played a major role in the very formation of Mentor Graphics in 1981, as founders Tom Bruggere, Gerry Langler, and Dave Moffenbeier were all former Tek employees. (When the writer first went to work for Mentor Graphics in 1990, the founders were still running the Company).

Back to the Present

Enough reminiscing! Tek itself possesses a venerable cachet, but a Tek owned and run by Danaher may be even more attractive to someone like Jim McGillivary. First of all, we know that Tek has operated and grown since inception a strong Test & Measurement business, long an interest and a passion of Jim’s from his days at HP and Agilent.

ButDanaher Tek” offered even more: A president already well known to Jim, and a proven system for achieving performance -- the Danaher Business System (DBS). It drives every aspect of the Danaher culture and performance. DBS is a real, practical system of continuous improvement and is used to guide and measure everyday activities in every Danaher entity. [5]

The Danaher Tek president today is one Amir Aghdaei, formerly of Agilent Technologies and well known to Jim McGillivary.

Mr. Amir Aghdaei

Mr. Aghdaei became president of Tektronix in May 2009, following stints as VP of Fluke Precision Measurement and as senior VP of field operations with Credence Systems. He also spent seven years as GM of Agilent Technologies' measurement systems business in Singapore. Aghdaei began his career at IBM and later held executive-level positions with Hewlett Packard. He has an MBA from the University of Delaware, an MS in Applied Mathematics and Computer Science from Georgia State University, and a BS in Industrial Engineering from the Science and Technology University of Iran.

As president of Danaher Tektronix, Aghdaei practices the tenets of the DBS, which was derived originally from the Toyota Production System and Lean concepts, then improved upon by Danaher. Jim McGillivary liked and admired Aghdaei and Jim soon came to admire and respect the DBS.

When an attractive opening appeared in the critically-important Tektronix RF/Microwave Division, with a chance to work with talented people like Lynne Camp and Amir Aghdaei, Jim sat up and took notice. The RF/Microwave area is one of five applications on which Tek is focused:

RF Test Applications arise in
Cellular Communications, EMI Test, Jitter Measurement, Radar Test, Radio Test and Satellite Test Equipment, Signal Integrity and Spectrum Management.

Tektronix Real-time Spectrum Analyzers

Jim was excited by this opportunity and was persuaded to turn his day-to-day activities since May 1, 2010 over to others, and join Tektronix on February 1, 2011:

At our April 2011 meeting in Santa Rosa, it was during his animated description of the opportunities and challenges involved in modern microwave and RF technologies that Jim’s engaging personality began exhibiting itself to the writer.

Here was not a career executive focused on ensuring that his next title and responsibility be “bigger” and “more corporate” than his last. Rather, here was a talented engineer/businessman genuinely interested at 50 years of age in an area where he could leverage his technical skills and interests with his accumulated experience in the digital and analog world, to provide solutions to a critically-important area of highly complex microwave and RF test equipment, to actually help deliver the signal generation and analysis capabilities required to overcome the most difficult challenges.

This flash of insight on the part of the writer opened up a brand new way to interpret Jim’s early life and career path to the present.

Arguably every turning point in Jim’s life up to now can be viewed from this more enlightened perspective, starting from Jim’s origins in Detroit.

Midwest Origins

Jim was born to parents who held important professional positions in Detroit Edison and Chrysler in the days when Detroit was the capital of America’s industrial might. Jim thrived growing up among two sisters and a brother, each of whom are themselves professionals (nursing, contract negotiator, and aerospace engineer).

Jim thrived both academically and athletically during his school years, especially at Athens High in Troy MI, yet he held several simultaneous part time jobs throughout high school. Each of these activities defines the man we see today. For example, tall and still trim, Jim’s prowess as a track star in high school is highly credible. He is also very unassuming but smart (he was in the upper 10% of his Athens class), yet interested in many things other than just grades (his part time jobs as a teenager were highly technical (bicycle mechanic and repair ace for hi fi electronics) and financially rewarding, the first attribute at least presaging his choice of electronics engineering for college).

College and beyond

With virtually any college campus at his fingertips, Jim chose the straightforward opportunity to study engineering at the nearby University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Jim passed up scholarships and throughout his college years continued his avocation of mechanic and hi fi amplifier repair specialist.

High-end Nakamichi Tape Deck

As Jim puts it, “It took me many years as a graduate engineer to reach the same pay level as my days as a repair tech.” Throughout college, Jim did well academically, loving the classes on electronics and audio equipment, and merely tolerating the other more theoretical courses. He budgeted his academic life in such a way that permitted time for other more enjoyable pursuits, such as a robust social life, joining a fraternity as a sophomore, and continuing his avocation as the local “complex electronics repair phenom” previously discussed.

Just after Graduation

At this point in our Santa Rosa meeting, the writer asked about Jim’s first full-time job after his 1983 BSEE college degree. What city? When the job started and ended, and why the job was chosen? Again Jim’s practical bent shone through. He chose the Harris Government Systems Group in Melbourne Florida.

Why? He liked the research part of the offer, and ever practical, he said Florida was attractive to someone growing up in Detroit. Moreover, by 1983, Detroit was enmeshed in a major recession.

But Jim ultimately worked at Harris for only nine months! Aha! Here is where we first hear about Jim’s fiancé!

As the story emerged, it turns out that Jim had met his EE classmate and future fiancé at Michigan. After her
BSEE graduation, Jim’s fiancé had also tried to find a job in Melbourne or environs, but without success. However, she did secure a great offer from Hewlett Packard in San Jose CA, and took it.

Whereupon Jim did the fiancé following; he quit Harris and found a job at Lockheed Missiles and Space in nearby Sunnyvale CA!

Enough with the following! The couple soon married in 1984, and now Jim and his spouse have three children:

Son #1 – 21, currently in 3rd year at a Pac 10 university, in Electrical Engineering

Daughter – 18, High School Senior; soon off to the Pac 10 for Molecular Biology.

Son #2 – 15, Freshman in High School.

Jim’s Career Path after Lockheed

In 1986, Jim left Lockheed and embarked on a career that consumed the next 24 years at what are now two separate companies.  As we will see, an outside observer at this juncture with no knowledge of Jim’s personality would be unable to single Jim out from any other talented but typical careerist.

Jim joined the Integrated Systems Division (ISD) of Hewlett Packard in 1986, toiling for three years in Sunnyvale CA as a hardware & software development engineer. He then advanced to an R&D project manager at HP ISD Sunnyvale for another three years, followed by two additional years as R&D Section Manager at HP ISD till 1994.

With this track record of success as a manager, Jim was asked to go to HP’s Power Product Division (PPD) in 1994 in Rockaway New Jersey to run that Division’s R&D group. The HP PPD made precision industrial power supplies for electronic manufacturing testing, for such HP customers as Motorola, Nokia, Sony, Samsung and Lockheed. (Rockaway is just 34 miles NW of New York City). Then after a short stint as PPD Marketing Manager in 1998, HP asked Jim to take over the entire Power Products Division as Vice President & General Manager!

Typical PPD Power Supply

Finally in a position to effect real change, General Manager McGillivary calmly but deliberately drove the focus of the organization from “product” centric to “customer application” centric, achieving a growth rate of 70% over the next two years, while simultaneously lowering the cost structure as development and marketing efforts became much more focused on target customers. Indeed, his Rockaway manufacturing group became the most efficient in the entire HP Test & Measurement sector, including manufacturing locations in Asia.

That success earned Jim the additional assignment of turning around the  Santa Clara Division of HP (SCD) back in Sunnyvale. He soon determined that SCD was in desperate need of a major transformation, as SCD was losing money by trying unsuccessfully to serve three different customer types: (1) automotive service bay testing, (2) cell tower communication time synchronization, and (3) positioning subsystems for semiconductor lithography equipment. The typical customer list was equally disparate: Ford Motor, Fiat, Rover, Samsung, NTT, ASML, Nikon and Cannon. Jim calmly got the division to focus on one business (nano positioning), returned the SCD to profitability in six months, ran it that way for another 18 months, and oh yeah...he still was in charge of the Rockaway NY Power Products Group some 2900 miles away.

Quite a general management success story for a young electronics engineer with few pretentions of being Peter Drucker!  What could be next for this young manager Jim McGillivary in the millennium year of 2000?

Well, as EDA WEEKLY readers learned last year that, while Jim and his fiancé were graduating with their 1983 BSEE Degrees in Ann Arbor, a small independent EDA enterprise called EEsof had been quietly building a fledgling company in California, destined someday to  provide its customers a broad spectrum of EDA software, including applications for microwave (MW), Radio Frequency (RF), high-frequency, high-speed, RF system, electronic system level (ESL), circuit, 3-D electromagnetic, physical design and device-modeling. Jim and EEsof were of course unaware of each other at this point in time.

In 1993 EEsof became a division of HP, and EEsof later stayed with Agilent Technologies when Agilent spun off from HP and executed an IPO in 1999.

(Reminder: see page 1 of this edition for the URL to access the two EDA WEEKLY articles about Agilent EEsof that appeared on February 01, 2010 and MARCH 29, 2010).

And whom in 2000 should Agilent tap for its new EEsof VP & General Manager but our young and rising star Jim McGillivary.

Here’s how that happened. When Agilent Technologies separated from HP in 1999, the Rockaway PPD and its GM Jim McGilivary went with Agilent. After another year of commuting between New Jersey and California (remember Jim was also managing SCD Sunnyvale at the time, which had also become part of Agilent), Jim was anxious to settle down on the west coast for awhile. His Agilent manager (Pat Byrne) suggested the Agilent EEsof assignment, something very different and challenging. Jim was excited about the opportunity and decided to take the offer, along with continuing to run the SCD Division in Sunnyvale. Eighteen months later, Jim began pouring all his energies solely into the Agilent EEsof Division in what became a ten year success story.

Stated in the format of a resume entry, Jim’s decade at Agilent EEsof EDA can be paraphrased as follows:

Jim McGillivary:

Agilent Technologies Vice President & General Manager -- EEsof EDA Division – Santa Rosa, California (2000 – 2010)

This division offers electronic design automation (EDA) software for engineers designing high speed communication systems, boards and IC’s. The position is one representing a virtual CEO in Agilent, as it uniquely includes the management of all business functions: R&D, Marketing, Support, Consulting, and the Field Sales Channel.

- Switched software business to time-based software contracts years ahead of the 2008 recession. As a result, business was extremely stable and barely dropped at the bottom of the economic cycle – many times better than the performance of the EDA industry in general.

- Moved to a lower cost bundled software model prior to the 2008 recession, achieving major market share gains against smaller competitors.

- Started up R&D centers in India, and China. Quickly ramped up to make major contributions to the product. (Writer’s Comment: Success at off-shoring takes a major commitment from management to communicate, plan, lead and control).

Agilent EEsof Technology Development Centers (2010)

Activities after leaving EEsof

The writer asked Jim what he had been up to since his last day on the job at Agilent EEsof on April 30, 2010. Based on what the writer had learned about Jim during the April 2011 Santa Rosa meeting, and via subsequent interviews with a number of people who know him, Jim’s answers were further enlightening but not surprising.

The writer did not expect that Jim would be using his time feverishly investigating new job opportunities, so as to not have a giant time interruption in his career resume. Indeed, that is definitely not what he did.

Rather, these were his two major activities before the Tektronix position naturally and easily materialized:

Interim CEO and President - Santa Rosa, CA
United Way of the Wine Country                 Sept 2010- Jan 2011

Stepped in at the request of the United Way board to provide interim leadership due to the resignation of the former CEO.  Jim’s main accomplishments were to focus the organization on the new strategic plan, rebuild relationships with major donors, strengthen relationships with client agencies, and build internal processes and controls. Revived the annual campaign and fundraising events. Built a detailed annual budget that factored in cash flow and different fundraising scenarios. Worked with a board of directors consisting of 35 powerful community leaders.

Entrepreneur Founder – Santa Rosa, CA
Four Force LL                                                 May 2010 -- Present

In pursuit of his avocation of mastering the electric guitar, Jim recently invented a new type of electronic amplifier and founded a small company to build and test several prototypes, to patent the device, and ultimately to market the device. Jim has funded the start up himself. After reaching the prototype stage, and having joined Tektronix, Jim has outsourced ongoing effort to a company called the Gibbs Group. The founder is Doug Gibbs, a former HP engineer that many people in Santa Rosa know very well. Doug left HP years ago and has since started a number of companies. The Gibbs Group is finishing Jim’s amplifier design, lining up manufacturing, and building a sales channel. Jim expects the Gibbs Group will take the new device from here to successful fruition.

Profile of Success, with more to come

By this time in our recent get togethers, neither of these outside activities seemed surprising to the writer. Jim had already modestly and reluctantly revealed that he had successfully managed his finances over the years, correctly anticipating the vicissitudes of the markets and the economy, and had assembled a portfolio that enables a certain degree of independence.

Jim McGillivary is a fine example of a productive, well-rounded intelligent American executive: successful in business, family, investing and avocations, with a generosity to give back to his personnel, his family and his community.

Jim McGillivary today

The writer is himself an experienced hi tech executive, and after the in-depth session with Jim in April and subsequent interactions, the writer has come to the conclusions stated above. Moreover, while space and time do not permit listing all the names, the writer has also authenticated this portrait of Jim McGillivary with people who have worked side by side with Jim over the years.

Emerging unbidden from the discussions were characteristics every manager would do well to emulate. The examples were many, but here’s a special mantra of Jim’s to close on: Always be a strong customer advocate focused on building organizations that understand customers and can quickly build products that solve their important business problems. Here’s how: Take time to regularly visit customers around the world every year to keep in touch with their business needs and to understand how your products and services are perceived. Maintain as many relationships as possible with Senior VPs and CEOs at all major customers.


[1] FOOTNOTE: When a 2011 issue of an EDA WEEKLY contains a ONE YEAR LATER (OYL) feature, the OYL section is always the last article in that issue. A number of methods exists to easily find the OYL section in any issue; here are two of them:

(a) Use the brute-force method: Go to the PRINT version and then slowly manually scan the last part of the main article as displayed; or

(b) After bringing up the PRINT version of the main article, go to EDIT and FIND, and auto-scan for “ONE YEAR LATER.”

Tektronix was founded in 1946 by C. Howard Vollum and Melvin J.”Jack” Murdock. As the story goes, Vollum decided to build an oscilloscope from spare electronics parts being stockpiled by his partners from post-WWII government surplus sales. At the time, the Du Mont Company had been the leading manufacturer of oscilloscopes, which were considered “indispensable to the rapidly growing US electronics industry.” Dumont’s oscilloscope was invented and existed a few years before the Tektronix 501, but the Dumont machine was far heavier and consumed much more power that the Tek 501. In contrast to Dumont and other oscilloscope companies such as RCA and General Electric, Tektronix remained (for quite awhile) almost totally focused on oscilloscope design and development. The first Tektronix 501 scope was shown at the annual IRE (Institute of Radio Engineers) convention in 1948. REFERENCE: Oscilloscope Development, 1943-57, Peter D. Hiscocks, Professor Emeritus, Electrical Engineering, Ryerson University, Email Contact, April 5, 2009


Mathlab News & Notes – December 2004

[5] FOOTNOTE: Success at Danaher doesn't happen by accident. The Company has a proven system for achieving it, called the Danaher Business System (DBS), and it drives every aspect of company culture and performance. Danaher uses the DBS to guide what it does, measure how well it executes, and creates options for doing even better -- including improving the DBS itself.

In the mid-1980s, a Danaher subsidiary faced with intensifying competition launched an improvement effort based on the then-new principles of lean manufacturing. The initiative succeeded beyond anyone's expectations - reinforcing the subsidiary's industry leadership as well as spawning the Danaher Business System (DBS). Since this modest beginning, DBS has evolved from a collection of manufacturing improvement tools into a philosophy, set of values, and series of management processes that collectively define the entire Company.

Fueled by Danaher's core values, the DBS engine drives the Company through a never-ending cycle of change and improvement: exceptional people develop outstanding plans and execute them using world-class tools to construct sustainable processes, resulting in superior performance. Superior performance and high expectations attract exceptional people, who continue the cycle. Guiding all efforts is a simple philosophy rooted in four customer-facing priorities: Quality, Delivery, Cost, and Innovation.


On May 23, 2011 National Instruments (NI) announced that it had signed a definitive merger agreement under which NI will acquire AWR Corporation (AWR) of El Segundo, CA. While smaller in annual revenues than Agilent EEsof EDA of Santa Rosa, CA, which was referenced in the main EDA WEEKLY article above, AWR is also a supplier of electronic design automation (EDA) software for designing RF and high-frequency components and systems for the semiconductor, aerospace and defense, communications and test equipment industries. Upon the closing of the transaction, AWR will continue to operate as a wholly owned NI subsidiary under the leadership of the existing AWR management team.

The writer solicited a comment on this May 23, 2011 NI announcement from Jim McGillivary, who said on May 24, 2011, “This NI announcement further validates the HP/Agilent goals of 1994 to tighten the links from EDA to test instrumentation.”


About the Writer:

Since March 31, 1996, Dr. Russ Henke has been and remains active as president of HENKE ASSOCIATES, a San Francisco Bay Area high-tech business & management consulting firm. The number of client companies for Henke Associates now numbers more than forty. During his corporate career, Henke operated sequentially on "both sides" of MCAE/MCAD and EDA, as a user and as a vendor. He's a veteran corporate executive from Cincinnati Milacron (Research Scientist), SDRC (President & COO), Schlumberger Applicon (Executive Vice President), Gould Electronics Imaging & Graphics (President and General Manager), ATP (Chairman & CEO), and Mentor Graphics (Vice President & General Manager). Henke is a Fellow of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) and served on the SME International Board of Directors. Henke was also a board member of SDRC, PDA, ATP, and the MacNeal Schwendler Corporation, and he currently serves on the board of Stottler Henke Associates, Inc. Henke is also a member of the IEEE and a Life Fellow of ASME International. In April 2006, Dr. Henke received the 2006 Lifetime Achievement Award from the CAD Society, presented by CAD Society at COFES2006 in Scottsdale, AZ. In February 2007, Henke became affiliated with Cyon Research's select group of experts on business and technology issues as a Senior Analyst. This Cyon Research connection aids and supplements Henke's ongoing, independent consulting practice (HENKE ASSOCIATES). Dr. Henke is also a contributing editor of the EDACafé EDA WEEKLY, and he has published EDA WEEKLY articles every four weeks since November 2009; URL's available. Since May 2003 HENKE ASSOCIATES has also published ninety-five (95) independent COMMENTARY articles on MCAD, PLM, EDA and Electronics IP on IBSystems' MCADCafé and EDACafé. Further information on HENKE ASSOCIATES, and URL's for past Commentaries, are available at http://www.henkeassociates.net.

You can find the full EDACafe event calendar here.

To read more news, click here.

-- Russ Henke, EDACafe.com Contributing Editor.